Cabaret Tip Tuesday At McElrath Cabaret: The Importance of Consonants – Join Us!

 

Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!

Even though he signed in under my name on accident :), this is a cabaret tip that KJ prepared for you today–enjoy!

 

Just as light is defined by shadows and sound is defined by silence, so too are vowels defined by consonants. Yet, it’s appalling how many pop singers are unable to grasp this concept.

 

Think about it: how many times have you listened to pop songs on the radio and have been unable to understand the lyrics?  Case in point: Reverend Blue Jeans. For a long time, I couldn’t understand why Neil Diamond would sing a song about a clergyman – and why a preacher would have a name like “Blue Jeans.” It was only after I got a book of Neil Diamond songs that I discovered it was actually about a cute girl who was Forever in Blue Jeans.

 

Now, most cabaret performers have a background in musical theater, and thus understand the importance of over-enunciation. Granted, it sounds silly to ourselves when we do it in rehearsal, but rest assured, when it comes to live performance – particularly in a large room with a crowd and a lot of ambient noise – it’s the only way our lyrics will be understood.

 

Proper warmup exercises can be very helpful when it comes to proper enunciation. As a choir teacher and musical director, I often used short tongue twisters such as:

 

Twenty timid toads – trying to trot to Trenton

and

“Who washed Washington’s white woolen underwear when Washington’s washerwoman went West?

as well as

“A big black bug bit a big black bear.

We would go through all the consonants in this manner during a typical warm up prior to performance or rehearsal.

If tongue twisters aren’t your thing, we also recommend learning some of the patter songs from the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire.  ”I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General”  from Pirates of Penzance is an excellent choice. Another good one (and actually more difficult and challenging) is “My Name is John Wellington Wells” from The Sorcerer. (By the way, just for fun, compare these with the Cole Porter song “Let’s Not Talk About Love.”)

Here’s a G&S patter song from The Mikado that we particularly like to use as a warmup.

 

Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!

 

As a cabaret singer, what would you add to this conversation?  Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!

 

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We appreciate your support!

Till next time,

 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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